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Chamley-Watson Wins Worlds

08/09/2013, 4:15pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Miles Chamley-Watson scores a touch in the gold medal final against Artur Akhmatkhuzin (RUS). Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

Chamley-Watson Wins First U.S. Men’s Individual Senior World Title in Hungary, Zagunis Places Fifth

Miles Chamley-Watson celebrates his title with his coach, Simon Gershon. Photo credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

(Budapest, Hungary) – Even after he jumped in the air for at least the 10th time, after the gold medal was placed around his neck, after the Star Spangled Banner played, Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa. / New York City) still had a hard time believing he did it – that he became the first U.S. man to win an individual Senior World Fencing Championship title.

The London Olympian has spent most of the last five years on the international circuit, competing at five Senior and two Junior World Championships.

And he’s come close – in 2010 he fell one win short of the podium when he placed fifth at the Senior World Championships – but individual medals always fell just out of reach.

In a season in which he played a key role in the U.S. Men’s Foil Team’s four World Cup podiums, Chamley-Watson placed in the top eight twice and, though he didn’t win an individual medal on the circuit, he did beat many of the world’s top fencers.

On Friday, however, it all came together and the fencer who came into the Senior Worlds as a 17th seed with hopes of winning a medal of any color won himself new fans from around the world when he took gold.

I knew that I had worked hard and could maybe get a medal, but I’m extremely happy I was able to win,” Chamley-Watson said. “I knew that my preparation was very strong. I felt great in the pools. I can’t say I expected to win, but I expected to do well and, in this case, well means winning.”

Chamley-Watson arrived in Hungary as the 17th-ranked fencer in the world which meant he would be the only U.S. men’s foil fencer to have to fence in the pool rounds as his teammates all earned byes into the table of 64.

But Chamley-Watson came to Budapest to get a job done.

On Tuesday, with his teammates cheering him on, Chamley-Watson picked off his opponents one-by-one and went undefeated (6-0) to skip through the next two qualification rounds and advance to the table of 64 as the 19th seed.

Focused and determined, he opened with a 15-12 victory over Bojan Jovanovic (CRO) in the table of 64.

While a three-touch margin may seem close, it would only get more stressful from there.

In the table of 32, 2012 Olympic Team Champion Giorgio Avola (ITA) led the bout, 10-6, but Chamley-Watson went on one of his famous runs to tie the score at 10. By the end of the second period, the American had taken a 14-13 lead. Avola took the first touch in the third period, but it was Chamley-Watson who finished the bout, 15-14.

As if to say that closing a four-touch deficit wasn’t that big of a deal, Chamley-Watson fenced world #3 Alexey Cheremisinov (RUS) in the table of 16 and found himself down, 11-6. Again, Chamley-Watson clawed his way back to a tie at 14 and stealing the final touch.

Although the U.S. men’s foil athletes made history as a squad on Friday when they became the only U.S. men’s team ever to place fourth athletes in the top 16 at a Senior Worlds, Chamley-Watson found himself the lone qualifier for the quarter-finals after his teammates each suffered close losses in the table of 16.

Two-time Senior World team medalist Sebastian Bachmann (GER) built a seemingly insurmountable lead at 12-5, but there’s a secret to Chamley-Watson’s fencing – if he can score two touches in a row, he can score almost anything if there’s enough time.

And, indeed, one by one he scored on the German until Bachmann’s lead had been cut to one touch at 14-13.

Chamley-Watson scored again to tie the bout, but time was running out.

With 13 seconds left on the clock, Chamley-Watson attacked and Bachmann was given a red card penalty – his second of the bout – and Chamley-Watson was awarded the 15th touch to win the bout.  

Though the win didn’t come quite as he pictured it, Chamley-Watson celebrated the medal he knew he had secured and vowed that things would be different in the evening medal rounds.

“I didn’t want any more 15-14s. I had a fair amount of luck during the day and knew that I was going to have to win a bout by more than 15-14,” he said.

Fencing 2012 Olympic Team Champion Valerio Aspromonte (ITA) in the semifinals after a four-hour break, Chamley-Watson seemed to be a changed fencer. A calmer, lighter, more confident Chamley-Watson took the strip – and the result was a domination of the Italian and a 15-9 victory.

After another hour break, Chamley-Watson returned to fence Artur Akhmatkhuzin (RUS) – a three-time medalist on this season’s World Cup circuit.

When the two last fenced, it was another 15-14 tale with Chamley-Watson taking the win at the Seoul World Cup in May.

This time, Chamley-Watson controlled each point and made winning a World title seem easy as he defeated the Russian, 15-6.

 “No, it wasn’t easy!” Chamley-Watson laughed. “He’s a great fencer and the last time I beat him it was 15-14, so I’m happy I was able to win. I’m just happy I was able to do it and that my last two bouts were my best bouts of the day.”

While some would assume fencing in the finals of a Senior World Championships would be filled with pressure, for Chamley-Watson, the opposite was true.

“Once I got to the semifinals, I knew I had a medal, so there was a lot less pressure and I just went out and had fun. What was the worst that was going to happen?  I’d still have a medal!” he said. “I was able to go for more actions and have a lot of fun in the last two bouts which I can’t really say I had in the first three.”

While one Senior World title is a dream for most, Chamley-Watson will have a chance at a second when he and his London teammates Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) and Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) will fence in the team event where the squad comes in as a #2 seed behind an Italian team that includes both Aspromonte and Avola as well as former Senior World and Olympic Champions Andrea Baldini and Andrea Cassara.

“I’m going to rest up and hopefully help my team win another gold medal,” Chamley-Watson said.

His teammates each placed in the top 16 in Budapest.

Meinhardt, the #4-ranked fencer in the world and a 2010 Senior World medalist, defeated Bin Sun (CHN), 15-9, in the opening bout and won his table of 32 bout over Andrii Pogrebniak (UKR), 15-13.

In the table of 16, Meinhardt was outtouched by 2012 Olympic Champion Sheng Lei (CHN), 15-14, and placed 10th overall.

Massialas won his first two bouts with a pair of 15-9 victories over Pawel Kawiecki (POL) and Erwan Le Pechoux (FRA).

In a hotly contested table of 16 bout, Massialas fell to Aspromonte, 15-14, and finished 11th.

Imboden rounded out Team USA’s results with a 12th place finish. After a 15-12 win over Chi Ka Yeung (HKG), the fencer-turned-runway-model defeated Jeremy Cadot (FRA) quickly for a 15-9 victory.

Imboden appeared to be controlling his next bout with Rostyslav Hertsyk, but the Ukrainian scored five straight to win the bout, 15-10.

In the women’s saber competition, two-time Olympic Champion entered the event as the only woman in the tournament to have won the individual event at a Senior World Championships – a feat she accomplished in both 2009 and 2010.

Zagunis cruised through her first three bouts of the day with wins over Marissa Ponich (CAN), 15-4; 2012 Junior World medalist Saoussen Boudiaf (FRA), 15-5; and Matylda Ostojska (POL), 15-8.

In the quarter-finals, her road to the podium ended when Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS) won the bout, 15-14. Dyachenko went on to take silver and Zagunis finished fifth.

All three of Zagunis’s teammates were exempt from pools due to top-16 world rankings at the start of the tournament and each placed in the top 32.

Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J. and Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) finished 17th, 18th and 19th, respectively.

Wozniak, a London Olympian, defeated Mihaela Bulica (ROU), 15-10, but lost to Beline Boulay (FRA), 15-12, in the second round.

A four-time Senior World Team member, Muhammad defeated Sevil Bunyatova (AZE), 15-14, in the table of 64. Her second bout was close as well, but Jisu Yoon (KOR) earned the 15-13 victory.

Fencing at her first Senior Worlds, Stone started out well with a 15-9 win in her bout against Olena Voronina (UKR), but lost to Ostojska, 15-11.

All four U.S. women’s saber fencers will compete in the team event on Monday. Zagunis, Muhammad and Wozniak have all earned Senior World medals together, including back-to-back bronzes in 2011 and 2012.

Competition continues on Saturday with the men’s epee and women’s saber team events.

The following athletes will be competing:

Men’s Saber
Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.)
Aleksander Ochocki (Linden, N.J.)
Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)

Women’s Foil
Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.)

Follow the results for all Senior World Championship events live at

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Men’s Individual Foil
1. Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa. / New York City, N.Y.)

2. Artur Akhmatkhuzin (RUS)
3. Valerio Aspromonte (ITA)
3. Rostyslav Hertsky (UKR)
5. Andrea Cassara (ITA)
6. Sheng Lei (CHN)
7. Sebastian Bachmann (GER)
8. Siu Lun Cheung (HKG)

10. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
11. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
12. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Women’s Individual Saber
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS)
3. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
3. Irene Vecchi (ITA)
5. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
6. Vassiliki Vougiouka (GRE)
7. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
8. Anna Varhelyi (HUN)

17. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
18. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
19. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)

Tag(s): News  Race Imboden  Alexander Massialas  Gerek Meinhardt  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Miles Chamley-Watson  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone